Jon: What’s the feeling among the fanbase about the Colt’s coaching staff? Why do they feel that way? What’s your personal opinion?
Joe: I don't think many will be pushing them as Coach of the Year, but there are relatively few Colts fans calling for heads to roll on the coaching staff. There's only so much you can expect them to do with the talent they had healthy. Personally I'm often puzzled by Caldwell's timeout/clock management late in games and annoyed by his conservative approach on 4th downs (one of the few things I disliked about Dungy), but the team is still developing a lot of young talent, which suggests the coaches are doing their job well the 6 days of the week we can't analyze their every move.
Jacob: The general feel that I've picked up on is relatively negative. Head Coach Jim Caldwell, Defensive Coordinator Larry Coyer, and Offensive Coordinator Clyde Christensen have been getting most of the flak especially with the difficulties this year, and in some ways it is deserved. Coyer has shown an inability to adjust to an opponents game plan as was demonstrated in last years Super Bowl loss to the Saints, and while it has not been as blatant this year, injuries and pathetic play from a few players has taken some heat off Coyer this year. Caldwell has been the most recent whipping boy, and this is mostly due to his complete lack of presence with fans. He is not a major figurehead in large part because of the reverence in which Manning is held, but also because Caldwell's personality is even more meek and mild mannered then that of Tony Dungy. Caldwell shows little to no emotion during games, whether we've just pulled off a miracle comeback like the 2009 Colts vs. Patriots game, or whether we are falling apart at the seams and are showing no heart like the 2010 Colts vs. Chargers game. Caldwell also has had a number of questionable calls, specifically with regards to clock management.
With Christensen, the biggest evidence fans have is Peyton Manning himself. The play calling has been atrocious this year (with the exception of a few spectacular calls like the bootleg run by Manning against Oakland), and Manning has been visibly distressed at numerous points this year with the playcalling. Rumors of Christensen also not relaying plays to Manning in a timely manner have also not helped his case. Its one thing to simply not be particularly good at your job. Its a completely separate problem when your poor performance starts negatively impacting Peyton Manning's ability to do well. Personally, I have a "wait and see" philosophy with all three. Coyer is changing the Indianapolis scheme still, and the personnel we have isn't exactly ideal.
This next year will be key. Caldwell has been solid with only some minor problems in my opinion. He could be exceptionally worse than he is, and so while having a Hall of Fame Coach would be nice, fact is that simply not having a poor one is good too. Christensen I'm torn on personally. He was supposed to have the easiest transition and already have a good standing with Manning, yet many of his problems are what I would expect from someone completely brand new to everything. Even some of his play calling can't even be blamed on injuries. This was only his first year though, and the guy he's supposedly replaced is still a key figure on the team. If his power is still being usurped, I'd be willing to cut him some slack, but if he has total control of the reins in this case, there may not be much of a defense for him. As I said though, I'm of the "wait and see" mentality. Christensen has only been the OC for one year. He's staying where he is, so this next year will really tell his mettle.
Jon: What is the Colt’s biggest need this offseason?
Joe: I'm firmly in the offensive line camp. The Colts suffered for passing on Rodger Saffold for Jerry Hughes as Saffold proved the Colts front office wrong in their assessment of him being a RT only at the pro level and defensive end turned out to be one of the healthiest positions on the team in 2010 severely limiting Hughes opportunities. The Colts have struggled to achieve consistent success running the ball the last two years despite having two 1st round running backs and the deep threat has been limited by the pass protection with Peyton putting up 2 of his lowest 3 and 3 of his bottom 5 seasons in yards per completion the last 3 years. The Colts need better line play to open their offensive options back up.
Jacob: Without a doubt the biggest need is along the offensive line. The line as a whole has gotten a bum rap due to the complete lack of skill on the right side. Both RT Ryan Diem and RG Mike Pollak have been completely useless this year. Pollak is even more concerning from my point of view because he is a young second round pick who has been replaced twice and comparatively has been the worst guard on the team by a large margin. Diem has the excuse of being old and slow and also has years of very solid showings. Pollak does not. While many fans (myself included) hope to get a Left Tackle in this years draft, the minimalist in me would simply be happy with a sure-fire stud guard to replace Pollak. LT Charlie Jonshon and LT Jeff Linkenbach are both more than serviceable at OT. They won't be in any Pro Bowls, but they've both been good enough. That said, if we get a stud LT in the draft, CJ can be moved to RG where he has experience and is more suited, and Linkenbach can replace Diem. This alone would make the offensive line quite a bit better than last years.
Jon: Name an MVP of the Colts for the 2010 season, not named Peyton Manning.
Joe: Dwight Freeney, 2010 was a 3rd straight double digit sack season from Freeney and he's a big reason why Mathis got a 3rd straight Pro Bowl nod alongside him and the group of LBs unused to blitzing were able to chip in a few sacks. Freeney changes the blocking schemes greatly which really makes the Colts pass D work.
Jacob: MVP is difficult as a number of players actually deserve it. My first thought would be Antoine Bethea though. In a year when we've seen big name players take a step back or literally break a leg, Antoine Bethea did neither. He continued to lead the team in tackles, and was a constant threat as a run stopper and in coverage. Throw in the fact he only missed 3 snaps the whole year when our first and second whole team of players in the secondary were injured, and Bethea becomes akin to a thing of legend. A Colt player in the secondary, staying healthy, and being good?!?! Collie would be my second choice simply because he was the most valuable player on the field when he was on it, but he was not on the field for the whole season. Thats why, cumulatively, I would have to say Antoine Bethea as the teams MVP outside of Manning.
There you have it! Two different perspectives from two different bloggers. I would like to thanks Joe and Jacob for spending some time to answer these questions. And check them out on their sites at 18to88 and Coltzilla respectively.
So do you guys like this perspective better? Do you prefer just one interviewee?